by Jesse Lassen Bellinger

How do you put a price on your own head? Sculptor Andy Johnson first discovered stone at age 11, and has since carved something every day. From two-faced rotating heads to spermatozoa in repose to an ancient-looking representation of a woman’s head the size of a young teenager’s fist, Johnson creates timeless art that demands a second look and may even offend. Until recently, he never felt the desire to sell anything. He just makes the stuff because he likes it.

“Why would I sell something I made?” he asked. “This is what makes me tick: the exfoliation of stone. It’s a compulsion.” He holds up what could be a hippoplatypus, then quickly points to what started as a horse but now is what it is. After 25 years, when he makes a mistake, Johnson utilizes the “whatever” motto rather than get the cold sweats like he just lost his wallet.

His faces and figurines follow no set rule of anatomy, but instead rise into the category of fertility goddess, or a goblin-like entity that leaves you searching for some definitive academic term from a book. Johnson’s pieces are now part of the debut show for the new Dave Shelton Gallery on Fig and Cota streets, just half a block down from the tried and true Joe’s Café and yet another newly minted Caffeinated Corporate Café.

Johnson predicted his debut showing will have the established galleries in town just slightly nervous. But his unabashed confidence is coupled with humble and genuine thanks for being given his talent. “If anybody can find a place in their life to enjoy what they do as much as I get to enjoy this, they’d be very fortunate people,” he said. “I feel very fortunate to have found something that makes me who I am.” Andy Johnson’s sculptures are on display at the Dave Shelton Gallery on the corner of Fig and Cota. Call 636-0802 for more info.

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